K-1 Fiance Visa – Comprehensive Guide with All the Information Applicants Need
Also known as a fiancé(e) visa, the K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa. It allows US citizens to bring a foreign fiancé to the country. Also, it’s the first step to obtaining a green card through marriage.
However, the application and approval process for Visas De Fiancé (K-1 visas) is complex, lengthy, and time-consuming.
Fortunately, US citizens and their fiancés can find all the information they need here.
What Is a K-1 Visa?
Essentially, a K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows US citizens to bring their foreign fiancé into the country to get married. Couples made up of an American national and a foreign individual often use this visa to get a marriage-based green card.
K-1 visa holders can stay in the US for 90 days. During that period, they must marry, and the foreign fiancé can apply for permanent residency.
How Does the K-1 Visa Work?
As mentioned, US citizens use this visa to bring their foreign fiancé(e) to the country when their main purpose is getting married. Here’s how the process typically works.
First, the US citizen files a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to sponsor their fiancé for a K-1 visa.
Once the online nonimmigrant visa application is approved, the case goes to the
National Visa Center (NVC). This entity will send the application to the US consulate in the foreign fiancé’s home country.
After that, the foreign citizen fiancé should attend an interview at the US consulate. It’ll focus on their relationship with the American petitioner, their intention to marry, and their eligibility for the visa.
If the visa is approved, the alien fiancé can travel to American territory and will have 90 days to marry the US citizen.
After that, the foreign fiancé(e) can initiate the legal process to adjust their status to become a permanent resident.
As mentioned, the process of obtaining the K1 visa is complex and time-consuming. Additionally, applicants must meet specific and strict eligibility requirements.
Therefore, those interested in obtaining a K-1 visa should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to receive the guidance they need in order to get approval.
How Long Does It Take to Get a K-1 Visa?
This process often takes 6 to 8 months, on average, after the US citizen files the petition with USCIS. However, the processing time can be shorter or longer depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the case.
If there are issues with the application or if USCIS requests additional evidence or information to support the petition, the processing time is longer. Changes in immigration policies can also impact this time frame.
K-1 Visa Costs – How Much Should Applicants Pay?
Costs may also vary depending on several factors, including the country where the foreign fiancé(e) lives. Check with our office to learn about all consular fees and USCIS fees involved in the process.
Once the K-1 visa is approved and the foreign fiancé enters the US, there may be additional costs associated with getting married and adjusting their status to become a legal permanent resident. These costs can include the filing fee for the adjustment of the status application.
Who Is Eligible for a K-1 Visa?
To be eligible for a K-1 visa, the US citizen petitioner and foreign fiancé(e) must meet several requirements. These are:
- The petitioner must be a US citizen, not a permanent resident.
- Both the US citizen petitioner and foreign fiancé(e) must be legally free to marry.
- Applicants must intend to marry within 90 days after the foreign national enters the country.
- The US citizen petitioner and foreign fiancé(e) must have met in person at least once within the two years prior to filing the K-1 visa petition. However, there are a few limited exceptions.
- The foreign fiancé(e) must be admissible to the US, meaning they don’t have any disqualifying criminal or immigration history.
- Both the US citizen petitioner and foreign fiancé(e) must provide evidence of financial support to ensure that the foreign spouse will not become a public charge.
Understanding the K-1 Visa Application Process
Understanding the application process is essential for both the US citizen and their fiancé. Fortunately, here’s a short but comprehensive step-by-step guide with all the information they need.
#1 Completing Form I-129F
Firstly, applicants must complete Form I-129F or “Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)” to prove the relationship is valid.
These are the documents they need:
- Proof of the sponsoring fiancé’s US citizenship, such as a passport copy or birth certificate
- Evidence proving the relationship is genuine, such as photographs together, letters from family and friends, travel itineraries, emails or text messages between the partners
- Copy of the foreign fiancé’s passport
- One passport-style photograph of the US citizen
- One passport-style photograph of the foreign partner
- Evidence that the couple has met in person at least once within the two years before the application, including flight bookings, hotel and photographs
- Sworn statements from each partner explaining the nature of their relationship and their intention to get married within 90 days after the foreign fiancé arrives in the US
- Copy of all previously issued Form I-94 arrival/departure records for the sponsored fiancé
After this, USCIS takes up to 30 days to send receipt and approval notices. This entity will also send a Request for Evidence (RFE) if more information is needed.
#2 Completing Form DS-160
After the case is handed off to the State Department, the US Embassy in the foreign fiancé’s home country sends a notice for the visa interview. It includes key information, such as date and location.
In addition, the sponsored fiancé must complete the online DS-160 form at the State Department’s website.
Documents that Both Parties Must Submit
Both parties must also submit a few documents during this step. These are:
- Birth certificate
- Valid, unexpired passport
- Police clearance from countries of residence, which include all countries where they lived for more than six months from the age of 16
- Two passport-style photos
- Sealed medical exam form issued by a professional authorized by the State Department
US Citizen Fiancé
- Most recent tax return
- Affidavit of support, also known as Form I-134
- Proof of relationship or a copy of the Form I-129F filed with USCIS
- Divorce or death certificates if applicable
#3 Attending the Visa Interview
The alien fiancé must attend the visa interview in their home country between 4-6 weeks after receiving the notice from the US Embassy. This is the third step.
More often than not, the consular officer interviewing the foreign fiancé makes a decision on the same day. However, in some cases, applicants must submit further evidence directly to the US consulate.
#4 Arriving in the US and Getting Married
If applicants meet all the requirements, the K1-visa is approved and the sponsored fiancé has six months to travel to the US. After that, the couple has 90 days to get married.
Couples who don’t meet this requirement may lose their K-1 status. Also, if they don’t get married, the sponsored partner can’t stay in the country.
After getting married, the same partner who sponsored the K-1 fiancé visa must apply for a marriage-based green card to grant permanent residency to their spouse.
What K-1 Visa Holders Can and Can’t Do
Here’s a summary of what K-1 visa applicants can do after receiving approval:
What K-1 Visa Holders Can Do:
- Enter the United States and remain for up to 90 days
- Get married to the US citizen petitioner
- Apply for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident
- Apply for employment authorization to work while waiting for their adjustment of status application
- Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) and use it to apply for a driver’s license or state ID card
- Enroll in academic programs, such as English language courses, as long as the program doesn’t exceed the 90-day limit of the K-1 visa
What K-1 Visa Holders Can’t Do:
- Travel outside the United States without obtaining advance parole, which is permission from USCIS to re-enter the country
- Work in the US without obtaining employment authorization
- Stay in the US beyond the 90-day limit
- Vote in federal elections, although some states may allow non-citizens to vote in local elections
- Apply for a US passport or other federal benefits, as K-1 visa holders are not yet permanent residents
Who Is Ineligible for a K-1 Visa?
Some K visa applicants may be ineligible for immigration benefits under some circumstances. These include:
- If the US citizen petitioner is not eligible to sponsor their foreign fiancé(e) because they have a criminal history or immigration violations
- If the foreign fiancé has a criminal history or certain medical conditions
- If the foreign fiancé(e) has previously violated the US immigration law by overstaying a previous visa
- If the US citizen petitioner has violated US immigration laws
- If the US government determines that the relationship isn’t genuine or doesn’t meet the requirements for a K-1 visa
- If the previous marriages of a K-1 visa applicant have not officially ended
Tips for Getting the K-1 Visa Approved
Here are some tips for getting a K-1 visa approved:
- Make sure to provide all required information and documentation in the initial K-1 visa petition, including evidence of a bona fide relationship between applicants
- Understand that it isn’t an immigrant visa and follow the other required steps
- Read all instructions carefully before submitting the K-1 visa petition and follow all USCIS guidelines and requirements
- Provide as much evidence as possible to support the K-1 visa petition, including photographs, letters, and other documentation to demonstrate the relationship is genuine
- Attend the K visa interview at the US Consulate in the foreign fiancé’s home country
- Be prepared to answer questions about the relationship
- Provide any additional documentation requested by the US Consulate
- Provide evidence that the US citizen petitioner can financially support the foreign fiancé(e) while in the US
- Be patient
- Work with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that the K-1 visa petition is completed accurately and efficiently and that all required documentation is submitted on time
- Start the process of obtaining lawful permanent resident status as requested
Do You Need Help Applying for a K-1 Visa?
If you need help applying for Visas De Fiancé (K-1 visas), you can find an experienced attorney at Hans Burgos Law Firm!
Our seasoned team has extensive experience helping US citizens and their foreign fiancé obtain the K1-visa to travel to the country and get married. Contact us today!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a K-1 Visa be Extended Beyond the 90-day Limit?
Overall, K-1 visa holders cannot stay in the US beyond the 90-day limit without obtaining an adjustment of status or another valid immigration status.
However, in certain circumstances, such as unexpected emergencies or unforeseeable delays in processing the adjustment of status application, they can apply for an extension of stay or a change of status.
Can a K-1 Visa Holder Work in the United States?
K-1 visa holders can apply for employment authorization. This document allows them to work while waiting for their adjustment of status application approval.
However, they cannot work in the country without obtaining this employment authorization document, which requires a separate application and approval from USCIS.
Can a K-1 Visa Holder Travel Outside of the United States?
K-1 visa holders who want to travel outside the country before receiving approval for their adjustment of status must obtain advance parole. It’s a permit issued by USCIS to re-enter the country.
Visas de Fiancé holders who don’t obtain advance parole may be barred from returning to the US for abandoning their adjustment of status application.